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David Crosson, outgoing AASLH Council Chair delivers his valedictory message which explores the three greatest challenges facing American historical organizations in the twenty-first century through Ingsoc, Dog Food, and Holy Water.

Ingsoc refers to George Orwell’s 1984 form of English Socialism where the past is all but erased. Crosson declares that history organizations, if they aren’t careful, can similarly write out part of a person’s or people’s history by only telling one side of the story.

Dog food refers to the idea that no matter how great an institutions scholarly research is, it means nothing if it is not engaging, connecting, and reaching your public.

The principle behind Holy Water is that a growing number of history organizations have begun a transformative purpose. The Holocaust Museum and Conner Prarie’s slave auction exhibit are two examples of institutions that move visitors to lamentation, contemplation, repentance, and perhaps even action.

Crosson concludes by saying that history to him is every bit as much a spiritual quest as it is an intellectual pursuit and personal passion is an expression of spiritual commitment.